Fellow fantasy heads, we’ve all experienced it before, you know, the pain of picking a player up off waivers during spring training after your draft is completed. Your gut tells you he’s going to have a big year, but then you cut him just prior to the season starting because you just don’t see it happening and then some other manager in your league picks that player up and he goes on to have the year of his career. Yeah, I’ve been there before and I’m back there again now. Here is a list of my most surprising players so far for the 2011 big league fantasy baseball season.
2B, Ben Zobrist/Tampa Bay Rays: Regardless of the 27 tag shots he hit in 2009, I don’t think many people expected the power surge that we are seeing from him so far in 2011. He currently has 7 home runs in the young season and looks primed and ready to add more to that total. During a double-header on April 28, 2011, he went 7 for 10 with two jacks, five runs scored and a grand total of 10 RBI. I know owners out there who had Zobrist in their lineups must have been mad if they lost the RBI cat that week—I know I would have been. Ben Zobrist is looking good and confident up at the plate, so I would continue to start him with confidence and enjoy the ride as they say.
OF, Sam Fuld/Tampa Bay Rays: Okay, where the heck did this guy come from? Just a month ago we were all talking about how Manny Ramirez is about to have the comeback season of his life and then just a few weeks into the season, Fuld steps in and starts filling up the stat sheets without any regard to human life. Kudos to anyone who picked him up and endured the laughter of fellow managers in your league for picking up a guy named Sam Fuld and actually expecting production from him. Who’s laughing now while he hits .274 to go along with 10 stolen bases and 18 runs off waivers? You could do a lot worse for a 3rd outfielder option.
Util, Maicer Izturis/L.A. Angels: I knew Maicer Izturis was good and all, but I didn’t know he would be leading my fantasy baseball team in batting average a full month into the 2011 season. Hitting .340 and bashing doubles (10) like it’s nobody’s business, Maicer Izturis looks primed for a breakout campaign, barring any nagging injuries of course. He’s got some pop in his bat with two home runs already and a career high of eight to go along with 10 RBI on the season. He can run into one every now and then, so pitchers beware of the hitting machine. As long as he can stay healthy, owners should continue to enjoy his production and seemingly constant 3 for 4, 2 for 4 hit games.
OF, Melky Cabrera/Kansas City Royals: If you’re like me and you thought the Royals weren’t going to carry many fantasy worthy players this year like many other years in the past, raise your hand! All I know is the Royals are playing some good ball right now and are turning a lot of heads in the American League. Melky Cabrera has been a big part of that success, hitting a solid .288 with two homers, 15 RBI and 17 runs scored. He won’t hit many home runs, but I’m sure there are plenty of fantasy teams out there that could use a guy hitting a sub .300 in their number two or three OF spot. He’s a career .267 hitter, so the average may drop a little over the course of the season, but hey, who knows, sometimes players just figure it out at the dish—have a year Melky!
OF, Lance Berkman/St. Louis Cardinals: Okay, no seriously, this guy is raking right about now! Every time I look up to check the scores of another game, I always see a new highlight of Lance Berkman putting in yard work. That’s what the Yankees get for being too impatient with him and letting him go—did they not know they had “the lumberjack” on their hands? Through 27 games with his new team, the Cardinals, Berkman is hitting an astounding .402 with 9 homers, 27 RBI, 24 runs and a 1.248 OPS. Berkman flew under a lot of peoples’ radar during fantasy baseball spring drafts, but is now paying off high dividends to those who took a chance on him. I love when that happens, shock the world Lance, shock the world.
SP, Justin Masterson/Cleveland Indians: If anyone recalls the introduction to this article, I was referring to this guy right here. Taking a look at Masterson’s age and career numbers after my spring draft while he sat there in the free agent pool, I felt like this could be the year he finally breaks out, but for some reason I just didn’t believe in the Cleveland Indian offense and I just didn’t see Masterson actually having the year I envisioned (the year he is currently having). Now, I pay the price. Masterson is spoiling the owner that picked him up after I cut him with a 5-0 record, 2.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Now here I sit trying to trade for him. If there is anyone else out there experiencing my same predicament, clap your hands.